Colorectal cancer does not always cause symptoms right away, and for this reason it often goes undetected for long periods of times. But if it does show, here are some colorectal cancer symptoms to look for:
Change in bowel habits: This can manifest itself as constipation, diarrhea, or narrowing of the stool. Any abnormality may be a sign. If one of these changes lasts for more than a few days, then it is possibly a symptom of colorectal cancer.
Sustained feeling of the need to have a bowel movement: If you have this feeling often and it is not relieved by having a bowel movement, then this is possibly a symptom of colorectal cancer.
Rectal Bleeding: If the rectum is actively bleeding, then the blood that accompanies bowel movements will be bright red, and this can be a sign that something is not right with your GI tract.
Blood in the Stool: Blood in the stool does not have to be bright red. Oftentimes, dried blood causes the stool to look much darker than usual and it may not appear red at all. It is helpful to look out for dark stool, as this can be a possible sign of colorectal cancer.
Cramping: Abdominal pain or cramps may be a symptom, especially if the pain is chronic, severe, or long lasting.
Weakness or fatigue: Fatigue is characterized by weakness and tiredness that does not go away with rest. Fatigue can be caused by internal blood loss associated with colorectal cancer, or it can be the result of cancer cells using up the bodies energy or a combination of both.
Unintended Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss is defined as the loss of 10 or more pounds in six months or less without knowing the cause. This weight loss can be caused a number of ways: by cancer cells using lot of the body’s energy, by the immune system using extra energy to fight cancer cells, by the cancer cells changing the way that food is converted to energy, or by any combination of the above.
Low Red Blood Cell Count: This is often the first noticeable sign of colorectal cancer. Often, colorectal cancer can cause bleeding into the digestive tract, and over time this bleeding can cause significant blood loss which leads to a low red blood cell count, or anemia. This bleeding is also the reason behind many of the other symptoms of colorectal cancer.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have colorectal cancer. In fact, many other conditions such as IBS, infection, and hemorrhoids can cause similar symptoms. Even so, any of these symptoms are worth discussing with a colorectal specialist. He/she can help you determine what is causing these problems, and what the next step ought to be.
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer, and it is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year. However, 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screenings and early detection. For this reason, it is important to know your body and keep in contact with your physician. Colorectal surgery, radiation therapy, and ablation are common treatments.